As the Red Sox and New York Yankees began their weekend series Friday night at Fenway Park, they could not have appeared more different.
While the Red Sox play out the string and await the end of their worst season in decades, the Yankees were riding an eight-game winning streak and looking to cement a playoff spot. Their spot in MLB's expanded playoff format was all but assured.
Moreover, the Yankees had taken all eight head-to-head meetings this season and were 22-5 against the Sox the last two years.
But as one-sided as the rivalry has been in 2019 and 2020, and great as the distance was between the teams in the standings (11.5 games if you're counting), those are really a lopsided snapshot of the past season and a half.
There's a far bigger issue separating the franchises -- the ability of the Yankees to contend year-after-year, and correspondingly, the Red Sox' inability to do so.
Consider: the Red Sox are about to finish last in the American League East for the fourth time in the last nine years.
Care to guess the last time the Yankees finished in the basement of the East? Hint: never. Their last season with a losing record was 28 years ago. The last time the Yankees truly had a disappointing season was in 2016 when they finished fourth in the division.
But even that year, the Yanks didn't exactly bottom out. They still won 84 games, or, the same number the defending world champion Red Sox had in 2019.
And while it's true that the Red Sox have won four World Series since 2004 to the Yankees' one, the Yankees have consistently given themselves a chance to at least get to the World Series. They haven't wildly fluctuated from winning a World Series one year and finishing last -- as the Red Sox did in 2013-14. The Yankees haven't gone from first to last in the span of three seasons -- the way the Sox did from 2018 to this year.
It's the boom-or-bust, all-or-nothing pattern that Chaim Bloom is tasked with ending. Those wild variations are one thing when they happen in Kansas City or Oakland or other small-market cities. The Royals or A's have to assemble young talent, contend for a while within a narrow window, and when the times comes when the best players become too expensive, start the process all over again.
But for a big-market franchise like the Red Sox with plenty of resources,